Orbit Group                            SBE0022

Written evidence from the Orbit Group


We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the sustainability of the built environment and wish to provide the following response to one of the key questions raised where we believe we can add insight and value.

Question: What role can the planning system, permitted development and building regulations play in delivering a sustainable built environment? How can these policies incentivise developers to use low carbon materials and sustainable design?


Response: The installation of external wall insulation (EWI) is a common energy efficiency measure installed to improve the energy efficiency and thermal comfort of a residential property. Installation of EWI is not always permissible under permitted development and the need to apply for full planning in certain circumstances can add significant cost and potential delays to projects.


In time critical projects, a shortened planning timeline may be sought by proposing a ‘like for like’ finish on brick-built properties using for example brick slips or imprinted brick effect render which may be granted under a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) rather than submission of a full planning application. However, this is not a favoured option due to the additional carbon footprint and cost of such materials.


The permitted development process would be helped enormously through much clearer guidance on what building materials, would be acceptable, in addition to clearer insight into the local interpretation of planning law. A master plan showing external material use and permitted development rights street by street would also be very useful.


Extending permitted development rights could incentivise a more sustainable design supported with clear targets on sustainability and performance levels of materials.


May 2021